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Centralia, Washington
—  City  —
Location of Centralia, Washington
Coordinates: 46°43′14″N 122°57′41″W / 46.72056°N 122.96139°W / 46.72056; -122.96139
Country United States
State Washington
County Lewis
 - Total 7.5 sq mi (19.3 km2)
 - Land 7.4 sq mi (19.2 km2)
 - Water 0.0 sq mi (0.1 km2)
Elevation 187 ft (57 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 14,742
 - Density 1,990.6/sq mi (768.6/km2)
Time zone Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP code 98531
Area code(s) 360
FIPS code 53-11160[1]
GNIS feature ID 1503899[2]

Centralia is a city in Lewis County, Washington, United States. The population was 14,742 at the 2000 census.



In pioneer days, Centralia was the halfway stopover point for stagecoaches operating between the Columbia River and Seattle. In 1850, J. G. Cochran, coming from Missouri with a young African-American slave named George Washington, filed a donation land claim on the townsite. Later, Cochran freed his slave, adopted him as a son, and in 1852 sold him his claim for $6,000. The new owner built a home and filed a plat for the town of Centerville, offering lots for $10 each, with one lot free to buyers who built houses. Centralia was officially incorporated on February 3, 1886.

In 1891, the population, over 1,000, found its mail confused with that of another Centerville in the state, and the name of the town was changed to Centralia. (Washington - A guide to the Evergreen State, WPA American Guide Series, Washington State Historical Society, 1941). The city was the site of the infamous Centralia Massacre in 1919.

The 1940 population of Centralia was 7,414.

Notable natives of Centralia include Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay, cable television and early mobile phone entrepreneur Craig McCaw, CFL offensive lineman Calvin Armstrong, modern dancer Merce Cunningham, video game designer and programmer Soren Johnson, Stanford quarterback Tavita Pritchard, and former MLB outfielder Bob Coluccio.

Longtime NBA player Detlef Schrempf attended Centralia High School as an exchange student from the former West Germany (1980-1981), starring in basketball.


December 2007 flood

Due to flooding from the December 2007 Pacific Northwest storms, a twenty-mile (32 km) stretch of Interstate 5, which runs through Lewis County near Centralia, was closed between exits 68 and 88 for several days.[3]The economic cost of the I-5 closure was roughly $4 million a day. To redirect water away from the freeway, WSDOT breached a dike to allow the water to drain back into the Chehalis River.

According to Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond, the damage done to Interstate 5 was not as bad as previously believed. Transportation workers were able to start repairs while the waters receded from the roadway.

At the height of the storm, at least 75,000 customers in Washington lost electric service. Near downtown Centralia, twenty square blocks had been flooded. The December 2007 Pacific Northwest storms and flood were blamed for at least eight deaths and billions of dollars of damage to the area.

Economy and employment

On Nov. 28, 2006 it was announced that TransAlta Corp., the largest employer in Centralia and operator of the Centralia Coal Mine, would eliminate 600 high-paying coal mining jobs. The nearby coal-fired Centralia Power Plant is not affected, except the coal to fire the plant will now come from Wyoming and Montana. Source: Daily Olympian article

Recent reports indicate, however, that there has been no noticeable economic effect upon the City of Centralia as a result (except the addition of homes to the real estate inventory, but are being absorbed), though it was greatly speculated upon. Data indicates that Centralia is experiencing growth in all three sectors with new job growth on a regular basis; both in its light industrial areas as well as its core business district, Historic Downtown Centralia.[4] Unemployment rate is the highest in the state and has been for a long time; it was reported to be at 9.9% as of December, 2008.


Centralia is located at 46°43′14″N 122°57′41″W / 46.72056°N 122.96139°W / 46.72056; -122.96139 (46.720484, -122.961429)[5].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.4 square miles (19.3 km²), of which, 7.4 square miles (19.2 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.67%) is water.


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1890 2,026
1900 1,600 −21.0%
1910 7,311 356.9%
1920 7,549 3.3%
1930 8,058 6.7%
1940 7,414 −8.0%
1950 8,657 16.8%
1960 8,586 −0.8%
1970 10,054 17.1%
1980 11,555 14.9%
1990 12,101 4.7%
2000 14,742 21.8%
Est. 2008 15,710 6.6%

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 14,742 people, 5,943 households, and 3,565 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,990.6 people per square mile (768.1/km²). There were 6,510 housing units at an average density of 879.0/sq mi (339.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 89.76% White, 0.44% African American, 1.25% Native American, 0.94% Asian, 0.30% Pacific Islander, 4.94% from other races, and 2.38% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.22% of the population.

There were 5,943 households out of which 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.7% were married couples living together, 13.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.0% were non-families. 32.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 3.02.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.2% under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 25.7% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 19.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 89.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,078, and the median income for a family was $35,684. Males had a median income of $31,595 versus $22,076 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,305. About 13.6% of families and 18.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.4% of those under age 18 and 10.8% of those age 65 or over.

Intercity rail transportation

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Centralia. Amtrak train 11, the southbound Coast Starlight, is scheduled to depart Centralia at 11:45am with service to Kelso-Longview, Portland, Sacramento, Emeryville, California (with bus connection to San Francisco), and Los Angeles. Amtrak train 14, the northbound Coast Starlight, is scheduled to depart Centralia at 5:57pm daily with service to Olympia-Lacey, Tacoma and Seattle. Amtrak Cascades trains, operating as far north as Vancouver, British Columbia and as far south as Eugene, Oregon, serve Centralia several times daily in both directions.

Government and politics

Centralia is a noncharter code city with a Council-Manager form of government. The City Council consists of seven members with positions one through three being at-large positions.

Although slightly less so than Lewis County as a whole, Centralia is conservative and fairly Republican.

2004 presidential election results in Centralia, Washington
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican George W. Bush 3,376 59.5
Democratic John Kerry 2,182 38.4
Independent Ralph Nader 59 1.0
Libertarian Michael Badnarik 32 0.6
Total votes 5,676 100.0%

Media outlets

Centralia's leading newspaper is The Chronicle and is ranked seventeenth in the state based on weekday circulation [1] and serves most of Lewis County. There are also several community-based newspapers that are published bi-weekly, such as The Lewis County News and The East County Journal.

AM Radio

FM Radio

Points of interest

Olympic Club Hotel and other interesting shops and eateries located within the city's Historic District. The fully restored train depot, the Carnegie Library located in Washington Park, and the many historically representative murals draw visitors and shoppers from around the region and elsewhere.

There is a high concentration of antique shops on Tower St. in the Historic District, allowing the antique enthusiast many hours of pleasurable perusing.

In popular culture

Seattle-based rock band Harvey Danger uses Centralia as a metaphor in its song "Moral Centralia," found on the 2005 album Little by Little....

Seattle-based underground rock band Tuna mentions " Centralia's sweet Sampson " in their song Krazy Kat


External links


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